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Rams-Bucs: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

LA continues to move in the wrong direction after another crushing loss

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Another week in the books and yet another catastrophic defeat for the Los Angeles Rams. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers handed LA their second loss in a row with a 16-13 finish. The GOAT continued to build his fourth quarter comeback resume with a last second effort on offense to put the game away with just 44 seconds left on the clock.

It seems like an eternity since LA was hoisting the Lombardi trophy over their heads as yellow and blue party favors fell from the sky like a light dusting of snow, but this is the new reality we live in. It is no longer a question of what the team can do in the playoffs, it is a question of if they even make it there.

The Good

The defensive continues to be a bright spot

Say what you will on Brady’s final drive of the game, the only positive thing to come out of Sunday’s matchup was the Rams defense. Scratch the final minute from the game and you will have had front row seats to an elite performance from Aaron Donald and company, though turnovers and sacks continue to be elusive despite having plenty of opportunities.

Raheem Morris’ unit made Brady’s offense look just as abysmal and predictable as McVay’s struggling offense. LA held the Bucs rush game to a mere 51 yards on 20 attempts and forced Tampa Bay to become one-dimensional.

Outside of a 28-yard completion to Cade Otton, Los Angeles kept everything in front of them and forced six punts. Their biggest moment came in the fourth quarter when they stopped the Buccaneers on a fourth-and-4 with just two minutes left in the game, but we all know how that ended.

The defense still lacks a pass rush and relies heavily on Aaron Donald to make the plays and they have not been able to capitalize on any turnovers recently after starting strong in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, but there are bright spots. Terrell Lewis is becoming a stud and nearly took a screen that he read perfectly to the house but could not make the catch. Troy Hill also looked good in coverage and read a couple of screens to stop any big gains and Jalen Ramsey continues to do Ramsey-type things.

Bobby Wagner still flashes elite talent, finishing with 13 combined tackles and performing one of the most acrobatic field goal blocks in recent memory. With some help from their offense this unit would look even better.

The Bad

Playoffs?! Are you kidding me?! I just hope we can win a game!

We are nearly at the halfway mark of the season and the Rams playoff hopes are dwindling fast after suffering yet another embarrassing loss to a NFC opponent. Neither team looked like they deserved be on a football field on Sunday, but with the win the Buccaneers move in front of LA for what could be the final Wild Card position in the postseason.

Crazier things have happened of course, but after another performance lacking any resemblance to a Sean McVay team it might be safe to say this unit doesn’t even belong in the conversation. We are beginning to see the fall of the “F them picks” era and without any draft capital for at least another couple of years losing is something that fans might have to get accustomed to.

Matthew Stafford needs to improve

I have left Stafford off of my list for the entire season because of the constant pressure he has had to face all year long. Nothing changed against Tampa Bay with another four sacks on Sunday, but regardless Stafford needs to take his fair share of the blame. He was a mixed bag once again. He stayed clean from turnovers and had a beautiful touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp in stride and threw another great ball that was dropped by Van Jefferson but also failed to complete a pass to a wide open Ben Skowronek in the red zone that would have been the difference between a win and a loss. He finished with 13 completions on 27 attempts for only 165 yards passing with a rating of just 80. He also had a couple of his throws fall as incompletions that should have been interceptions. With yards and touchdowns becoming a premium for this offense it is imperative that Stafford makes the most of his opportunities when they come.

Van Jefferson’s stock

When Jefferson came back from injury last week it was understood that it would take some time for the receiver to get back into the fold, but for his second game in a row he did not have a single reception—and it was not for a lack of targets. He tied for the second most targets in the game along side Allen Robinson with five. One of those targets was an inexcusable drop that would have lead to a huge gain for LA.

During the Rams Super Bowl run last year, Jefferson was a huge deep threat for the team after DeSean Jackson left for what was believed greener pastures. It may be a small sample size, but there does not seem to be the same kind of separation that he had just a season ago. It could be that he is still recovering, it could also be that he just might not be the same player after the injury. With Robinson still developing Jefferson’s ability to get back to 100% could be the difference between finishing the season above .500 or falling below for the first time of McVay’s career.

The Ugly

Sean McVay’s conservative play

After getting the ball back with just 1:52 left in regulation McVay called three run plays in a row to take off just over a minute off the clock. With just 44 seconds left, Brady did what he has done his entire career and took his offense from his own 40-yard line to the endzone to win the game. It’s easy to put blame on the defense who gave up completions of 28 and 14 on the drive as well as getting called for a defensive pass interference penalty with just 16 seconds to go, but it was the head coach that put them in the scenario in the first place.

This is not to say that we should begin the campaign to remove McVay from his throne. He is still a crown jewel in regards to head coaches in the NFL, but the failures of this season will ultimately fall on him. Last year he rose to the expectations and helped lead his team to a championship—this year he will have to do everything he can to ensure a winning season at the very least. Despite all the talent on the Rams roster this is not a team primed to make it far into the playoffs... if they make it all.

What would you add to this weeks Good, Bad, and Ugly? Let me know in the comments below!